By Jon Rothstein
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He hopped on a golf cart and headed to his daily press conference, checking one bullet point off a long list of daily responsibilities that come with being the head coach of Kentucky.
John Calipari may have — along with the head coach of Notre Dame football — the most pressure-filled job in collegiate athletics.
But you’d never know it.
Calipari is a combination of confident, relaxed and jovial. He doesn’t get too entrenched in the severity of each lingering loss like the rest of the state of Kentucky.
When you coach the commonwealth’s team, that’s the only way to approach things if you want to maintain your everyday sanity.
“This is a basketball junkie’s paradise,” Calipari told me earlier this season in reference to Kentucky. “It goes from preseason to season to recruiting season. It doesn’t stop. It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
And no day and no moment will be bigger than today against Rick Pitino and Louisville in the Final Four.
If Kentucky loses, it’s a travesty.
“It’s Kentucky,” Calipari said recently. “We’re not just supposed to win every game, we’re supposed to win every game by 25.”
Only one person has been in this type of high-profile position in sports and handled it with such poise, and that was Joe Torre when he was manager of the New York Yankees.
Like Torre, Calipari needed a second lease on his career to reinvigorate himself — and with that extra opportunity, he turned Memphis into a national basketball powerhouse.
From there he jumped to Kentucky and has since sent college basketball’s most passionate fan base into an all-time frenzy.
That frenzy will only be augmented if the Wildcats win their first National Championship in 14 years.
If they don’t, it will be a major disappointment — just like it was when Torre came up short with the Yankees in the playoffs.
A seminal moment? Maybe somewhere else.
At Kentucky, there’s always another recruit, another game and another season.
The most intense job in college basketball?
You’d never know it if you talked to Calipari.
Joe Torre has won four World Series titles. John Calipari hasn’t won any National Championships to this point. Do you agree that the two can be compared? Sound off with your opinion below…